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WORKERS' COMPENSATION - Compensability of injuries - Aggravation of pre-existing condition - Psychological injuries

Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 8:50 AM  

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Application by Stein for judicial review of a decision of the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal which held that she had not suffered from a compensable mental disorder and for a declaration s. 5.1 of the Workers Compensation Act was unconstitutional. Stein, who had bi-polar disorder, ceased working as a cardiology technologist in 2013. She claimed she had developed a workplace mental health injury due to the stress of having been scheduled to do five stress tests in a row in breach of previous employment accommodations and due to the stress of being bullied by coworkers. The Tribunal found the events that aggravated Stein’s pre-existing mental disorder were incidents of interpersonal conflict and work-related stressors. It held that scheduling and the employer’s attempts to deal with the coworker’s behaviour were excluded from compensable claims under s. 5.1(1)(c) of the Act. Stein raised the constitutionality of s. 5.1 of the Act for the first time in her judicial review application.

HELD: Application dismissed. The Tribunal’s decision was entitled to the highest level of curial deference, given the privative clauses in the Act. Its decision was reviewable on a patent unreasonableness standard. With no airing of Stein’s Charter arguments before the Tribunal, the record addressing matters such as legislative purpose, the perpetuation of disadvantages or stereotypes and proportionality, was largely absent. The Charter concerns raised by Stein were tangential to the Tribunal’s reasoning. Stein’s s. 15 Charter arguments were not considered. The Tribunal’s findings of fact were supported by evidence. The decision was justified, transparent and intelligible.

Stein v. British Columbia (Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal), [2018] B.C.J. No. 910, British Columbia Supreme Court, A. Saunders J., May 14, 2018. Digest No. TLD-June112018003